Budapest on the move – A sustainable Urban Mobility Transformation

With cities having temporarily reorganised their city centres with pop-up biking lanes and car-free streets due to the COVID-19 crisis, many citizens have claimed the new space for walking and cycling. The measures provided many urban dwellers with their first glimpse on what urban mobility in the greener and more resilient cities of the future could look like.

A scenario Urban-LEDS city Budapest has long been working to realise by advancing its sustainable mobility plan. Reason enough to take a look at some of Budapest’s actions to square the minimum pollution – maximum mobility circle connecting its 1.7 million citizens across a 525 km² territory.

Pursuing excellence

Like for many cities, Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system – currently composed of four metro lines, five railways, 33 tramlines and 279 bus lines – to accommodate the needs of a growing population. A process of anticipating the mobility needs of generations to come, while planning, designing, constructing and interconnecting different means of (public) transport integratively and effectively in the now. A process of such complexity and impact on the daily operations and sustainability of the city, that it prompted Budapest officials to create the BKK, a specialised centre to drive the process. Brought to life as a centre of excellence for transport in 2011, the BKK addresses key aspects of urban mobility ever since.

Budapest’s efforts take root in the need to reduce emissions from road transport, while at the same time expanding its public transport system

As such the BKK was responsible for the development of a new Mobility Plan to modernise transportation system in line with the guidelines issued by the European Commission for developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) and the city’s climate resilience and adaptation plan. The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process. In promoting more connections, more attractive, environmentally friendly, comfortable vehicles and technologies, better service, and more efficient governance, regulations and cooperation, the plan is to deliver on ensuring a liveable urban development with a safe, reliable and dynamic transportation system. For this purpose, the SUMP has been integrated into the Budapest 2030 Development plan and echoes the targets of Hungary’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) requiring the country to reduce emissions by 40% (to 1990 levels) until 2030.

The BKK included more than 200 institutions in the preparation of the plan to analyse key mobility problems in the city, including a one-year public consultation process.

According to Eurobarometer and the European Cyclist Federation, around 22% of the population opt for cycling frequently to get to work. Only the Dutch and Danes are cycling more on a regular basis in Europe. Budapest is embracing and promoting this potential further via campaigns like “I bike Budapest” and its longstanding participation in European wide initiatives such as European Mobility Week. The city’s 200 km of bike routes are making it one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, tying in well with its emission reduction targets.

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